Several New York Jets fans gathered to protest in Florham Park, NJ Thursday, which probably did more harm than good.
So, you want to protest? Wonderful. After all, peacefully assembling to express one’s First Amendment right remains a right reserved in this country for everybody.
The conversation just can’t stop there.
What are you seeking to achieve? What are the pros and cons of any protest? Is there a better strategy at play?
Dear New York Jets fans: protesting doesn’t matriculate the ball down the field as much as you may think or hope.
Rewind the clock six years. The struggling Jets, led by general manager John Idzik, couldn’t figure it out. While “flexible” was Idzik’s personnel calling card, reality told a more frightening story that set the organization back a couple of years.
Jets fans decided it was time to take action. The “Fire John Idzik” banner was born.
Airplane over practice carrying flag that reads: "Fire John Idzik" pic.twitter.com/zc9IDElnrf
— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) November 5, 2014
It makes for a fine story, no doubt. But what about the real story, the one that follows such a harsh message to ownership? Where did it exactly get Jets fans in the long run?
It got them Charley Casserly, who infamously helped in the general manager search. It got them Mike Maccagnan and a 2015 season that successfully masked the organization’s ills and kept them from starting the team-building process the right way.
It eventually got them Adam Gase, who experienced his first such public display of anything-but affection last year.
Plane spotted from the George Washington Bridge this afternoon.
Banner reads: FIRE ADAM GASE NOW! https://t.co/UHm7pGkcJl
— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) November 8, 2019
Mission accomplished. Your voices have been heard. If only your voices were heard earlier.
The Jets fans’ best course of action is to smarten up, literally.
Oftentimes, an NFL fanbase’s overall football knowledge matches up with the organization’s track record. Pittsburgh Steelers fans are some of the most knowledgeable in the land. Making the argument that matches up with the organization’s illustrious history is a piece of cake. Green Bay Packers fans and their fans also make for a brilliant match.
Interestingly, Jets fans are much more intelligent than their organization’s success rate. It’s just that very few onlookers realize it, which forces general NFL fans to oftentimes and unfairly look down on the Jet fan.
On Thursday, a small group of Jets protestors gathered as close to the Atlantic Health Training Facility as they possibly could to voice their frustration with the inexcusable 0-2 start. Did I mention the group was small?
At first, two Jets fans were spotted (I didn’t spot any while leaving the facility).
The Fire Gase protest pic.twitter.com/ZXKZVRmqfJ
— Brian Costello (@BrianCoz) September 24, 2020
Then, another two joined the fray.
— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) September 24, 2020
That’s it. That’s where it ended. A handful of fans showed up to protest what’s gone wrong in Jets land.
Apathetic or depressing?
First of all, don’t schedule a protest for 1 p.m. ET in the afternoon. It doesn’t matter when the team practices. Ensuring a large crowd gathers with public interest at play is by far more important than the timing of practice. Folks have to work—even in this COVID-19 world.
Secondly, have we not learned our lesson? Protesting after the mistake doesn’t move the needle. Calling out errors in real-time has the chance to impact things significantly.
Sure, Jets fans were all over the Gase hire at the time it was announced. They nailed that one. But what about Maccagnan? What about the complete lack of attention put towards the offensive line? There simply wasn’t enough noise about those two enormous factors that have molded where the Jets are today.
Only the brave Jets fan would rail against a possible Le’Veon Bell signing a year ago. Those who thought it was a bad idea either remained in the shadows or were drowned out by the vocal minority that frequents social media. Yet if the majority of the fanbase publicly disapproves of a “superstar-type move,” such a message gets through to an organization (and ownership) in real-time.
Bell’s star-studded nature was just too much to oppose, I suppose. But if the majority of the fanbase realized that signing a veteran running back with no offensive line to speak of is a terrible idea in a hard salary cap league, ownership listens.
Every NFL owner is different in terms of who they listen to and who’s included in the inner circle. It’s up to the fans to let them know what’s smart or not in times of desperation. Instead of backlash during the 2019 offseason, there was a party. J.B. Smoove, brand-spanking-new uniforms and shiny veteran signings covered up an entire decade of poor drafting and crummy salary-cap management.
If only the football-savvy portion of Jets fandom helped steer the vocal social media minority in the right direction.
Admittedly, nothing can ever be pinned on the fan, the paying customer who serves as the lifeblood of every professional league, franchise. It’s ultimately up to ownership to get it done.
Then again, if the fan was that much of a fanatic, they’d pursue the best route that could help achieve legitimate change.
Learning the game, the ins and outs of why certain things are done are what leads to overall fandom quality, which ultimately leads to a smarter fanbase that could call-out the horrid moves in real-time.
A fanbase angry about a “superstar signing” would certainly get a message across to ownership. It would also signal to the rest of the league that New York Jets fans are for real: They truly understand this game and its inner-workings in the year 2020.
Every so often, a fan asks Jets X-Factor what they can do and how they can possibly go on in life as a fan of this organization. The answer is tough: trust Joe Douglas, acquire knowledge and remain patient.
While it’s not the answer any fan wants to hear, it’s the more favorable strategy than flying banners and gathering in small numbers while the masses are stuck at work on Thursday—providing the mainstream sports media more ammo to poke fun at the fanbase, which does nothing to help attract big-time head coaches to Florham Park, NJ.